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TV Review: Californication Goes ‘In Utero’

For the second time this season, Hank finds himself in a chair, legs open wide, and another man playing with his balls.
By  · Published on December 1st, 2008

Californication, Showtime, Airs Sundays 10pm E/P

Episode: “In Utero” (Season Two, Episode Ten)

Synopsis: While Hank nervously awaits the results of his biopsy, he reflects on his relationship with Karen, and we flashback to the beginning of their stormy union — an event that coincides with the tragic overdose of a famous grunge rocker. Meanwhile, Daisy tells Charlie that she’s moving out, but Charlie doesn’t want to let her go.

Review: For the second time this season, Hank finds himself in a chair, legs open wide, and another man playing with his balls.  He gets a biopsy on the testicular lump discovered last episode, and spends most of this week’s episode worrying about the result.  It’s a sobering event in anyone’s life, and Hank, along with show creator Tom Kapinos, finds a way to balance the seriousness of the situation while maintaining a sense of humor.  The doctor, still between Hank’s legs, pauses to ask Hank what he’s working on these days.  “I’m working on trying to figure out what that fucking lump in my junk is, that’s what I’m working on.”  The wait for the test results is alternated with flashbacks to Hank and Karen’s discovery that not only has Kurt Cobain died, but she’s pregnant as well.  So one event that may effect the music world, and one involving a dead rock star.

The story told in the flashbacks, the couple dealing with the pregnancy news and actually becoming a couple, is a fun look back to their beginning.  As interesting and ultimately extremely touching as those flashbacks were, David Duchovny and Natascha McElhone playing fourteen years younger is a bit of a stretch.  The Forrest Gump movie poster was a nice touch, but the hat Hank was wearing as they said their goodbyes?  More goofy than convincing.  But that absurdity was minor in the grand scheme of the episode.  The struggle was nice, as was the admission that they’re both cheating on others by being together.  In the real world that wouldn’t bode well for a relationship, but here it seems fitting.  I’m surprised the show took this long to actually reveal the beginning of their courtship, but it pairs perfectly with the revelation of Hank’s mortality.

Hank had funny lines about his cock, “I consider that whole area, general area, like from my knees to my nipples… cock.”  Hank has realizations that probably won’t last, “I’m a father, I’m not great. A great father is the guy that gives it all up for his family and leaves his self-destructive bullshit at the door. There isn’t a woman that I’ve met that I haven’t fallen in love with for ten minutes or ten years. What about the one woman who threw it in with me. Took that massive leap of faith just to be with me. What did I do? I fucked that up.”  Hank seals the deal fourteen years ago with a perfectly worded letter to Karen that not only begins their relationship, but shows why they’ll go the distance no matter how many obstacles end up in their way.  Kapinos is a master at writing truly heartfelt dialogue and observations (yes Cole, even better than Nicolas Sparks.)  Hopefully they won’t save the couple’s reunion for the last moments of the season (just two episodes away) like there’s actually a chance they won’t get back together.

And then, as always, there’s Charlie Runkle.  His mid-life crisis is in full swing, aided and abetted by the porn star with daddy issues.  He should be leaving Marcy soon, and like I said last week, good riddance.  She was always more annoying than entertaining anyway.  Although I don’t honestly believe his relationship with Daisy has any staying power.

Bottom line?  Excellent episode.  Excellent show.  Excellent season so far…

Up Next Week: To celebrate the release of Mia’s book, Ashby hosts a soiree at the manor. Back from rehab, Marcy tries to avoid the powdered temptation all around her

Read More: Californication Recaps

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.